Published Jul 18, 2019The Daily Show host Trevor Noah took the opportunity on last night's (July 17) episode to constructively criticize Scarlett Johansson's recent comments about diversity and representation in Hollywood.
Over the weekend, As If magazine quoted Johansson as saying, "As an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job."
The internet flew into a tizzy over the comments, as they did when she was cast in the movie adaptation of Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell and when she accepted the role of a trans character in Rub and Tug (which she later conceded due to the backlash).
Noah confronted Johansson's comments on The Daily Show, arguing that her defensive and entitled attitude is missing the crucial point that she wants to play every role in the industry and thinks she should be able to — because it's an industry that caters to people who look like her.
"For so long, Hollywood and the people who define storytelling in America have defined it as stories to be told for and by white people," he explained. "And so the roles that have generally been reserved for black people have been the stereotype of criminal, maid, slave. That's pretty much it."
Noah continued: "We take for granted how much representation means to human beings, I think in two ways. One: on an inspirational front, and two: just how it shapes society."
He went on to praise films and shows that were representing diversity positively, rather than perpetuating racial or religious stereotypes.
Noah concluded by once again highlighting the cause of the ScarJo backlash — the fact that her comments didn't recognize the point of privilege from where they were coming — and urging people to have honest, difficult conversations about how to introduce fair representation rather than just fighting on Twitter.
Watch his full segment below.
Johansson has since defended her the comments in As If, telling BuzzFeed, "I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness."
"I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to," she added. "I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included."